Rio 2016: Vicky Holland wins battle of the Leeds housemates

Vicky Holland, left, and housemate Non Stanford, raced against each other for Olympic bronze on Saturday.
Vicky Holland, left, and housemate Non Stanford, raced against each other for Olympic bronze on Saturday.
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Vicky Holland crossed the finish line to win Olympic bronze in the triathlon and then apologised to the best friend she had beaten to do so.

Holland and Non Stanford live and train together in Leeds as part of the same group as the Brownlee brothers and had dreamed of both winning medals in Rio.

Instead, it came down to a sprint between them, with Holland pulling away to take third place behind unstoppable American Gwen Jorgensen and Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig.

The 30-year-old said: “This was what I came here for, to win a medal for GB, but to have to beat your best friend, your training partner, your housemate, is hard, and I guess after about five kilometres of the run I knew it was going to come down to a battle between us for a medal.

“We’ve always said if it comes down to the run, we knew we wanted a medal.

“So we had to keep the pressure on and keeping running for a bronze.

“I wanted both of us to do it, and Non is a huge part of what I do. Half of this medal is hers. I moved in with Non at the end of 2013 and I’ve become an exponentially better athlete because of it.

“I had to put out of my mind that it was Non. I had to think of her as just another competitor. And the first thing I said when I did gather myself was ‘I’m so sorry’.

“As she always is she was a total star, I know she is delighted for me, but I also know she is absolutely gutted because fourth is a horrible position to finish.

“But she’s the strongest person I think I’ve ever met.”

Holland moved in with Stanford just after the Welsh athlete had won the world title in 2013.

Holland’s boyfriend Rhys Davey, who is also her cycling coach, is the third member of the household. They share cooking duties and spend their spare time watching trashy TV. “We leave training at the door,” said Holland. “I think that’s why we are as close as we are.”

Stanford lay with head in hands after crossing the finish line before Holland picked her up and they shared an emotional hug.

“It’s very bittersweet,” said Stanford, 27. “I’m delighted for Vicky but maybe tactically I played it a bit wrong.”